A business plan can make all the difference in having a successful business or one that falls flat. It is critical to have a well thought out, defined, documented plan if you want to have a much better chance of getting your business off the ground, getting it out of a rut or just improving profitability.
I think most people do not write a business plan because they are intimidated by the process and just don’t know where to start. This series of articles will help you get started on a business plan with what I think are the questions that will ensure your plan gets written. The answers to these questions will turbo charge your path to success; will focus your efforts and clarify the strategies in a way that makes marketing so much easier. You will be much more likely to recognize opportunities once you have completed these 6 questions. The more in depth you can answer these questions the more enlightened you will feel on how to accelerate your success, how to not waste time or money on efforts that are not compatible with your business model. The path becomes clear and obvious once you give serious thought to these questions and write down your answers.
Writing the questions and answers down is critical to the success of this process. It can be a living breathing document, but it must be in written form. You cannot carry the answers in your head and think you are benefiting from the power of this exercise. Take each question and be as detailed as you can with your answer. The more you think about your answer, hone your answer the more power the answer will have for you. So here goes with Question #1. Good luck, you are making a huge step toward success.
Question #1: What do you do? What do you sell? Seems obvious, right? But how much thought have you given to the details of what your business does? The more in depth you can get here the more fuel you will give to the questions that follow. Focus on one thing at a time if you offer several different types of products or services. Give each one the time it deserves to get well defined. Once you write in detail what services and products your business offers, give some thought to how you described it. How you describe it to yourself is the start to determining who you will sell your product to. Use a lot of adjectives, this will get your creative juices flowing and make the definition more dramatic, exciting and motivating.
Make sure you have a 25 – 50 word version you can use when you are meeting people and they ask you what you do for a living. Use every opportunity to market your business and that means even at casual get togethers of friends, conversations with strangers at the airport or coffee shop. The more succinct and descriptive your response, the more likely you are to identify a client or have a client identify you.
I will post a question every week and in a few weeks you will have the basis of a business plan and will see that you are excited about finishing it. You will see the power the plan gives you and how it clarifies your next steps.